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Ukraine's Parliament has declared last week's (Nov. 21) Presidential election invalid. The resolution is non-binding, but it's sure to stimulate continued massive demonstrations supporting opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko in his calls of reverse the allegedly fraudulent election of establishment candidate Viktor Yanukovich, favored by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Saturday evening I watched the movie Dr. Zhivago on television. I watched the movie's portrayal of a peaceful crowd marching down the Moscow streets to the sound of a brass band playing a patriotic tune, when they were mowed down by government forces on horseback, carrying sabers. Men, women and children were killed in the street, a prelude to the Bolshevik Revolution and the decade-long Russian civil war that killed and starved tens of millions of people.
That's the kind of scene that's occupying many minds today in Ukraine and Russia, as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators show up, day after day, in Kiev's Independence Square, in winter temperatures far below freezing. A violent confrontation between demonstrators and police, killing men, women and children, could spark a new revolution today. This is not idle musing; it's a real possibility that many are worried about (and that Generational Dynamics predicts will happen sooner or later anyway).
The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators must know about it, and be talking about it. Undoubtedly some in the crowd have a visceral hope some outbreak of violence will provide an excuse to overrun the government buildings.
The election is over, and the vote count indicates that Yanukovich has won, with Yanukovich winning in the east and Yushchenko winning in the west, as the adjoining map shows.
If you ignore the fraud, there's no question that Yanukovich won the election, and should be declared the winner, and would have been declared the winner, if it weren't for those huge crowds. But on Thursday the Ukraine Supreme Court froze the announcement of the election results. On Saturday, the Parliament, which had earlier refused to intervene, passed the non-binding resolution declaring the election invalid. And tomorrow (Monday), the Supreme Court will hear the case and make a decision.
Many of these are surely stalling manoeuvers, meant to gain time, to see if the crowds dwindle. If the size of the crowds goes from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands, and then to just thousands, then the government will feel encouraged to endorse the election.
But the crowds have not been dwindling, and have even been growing according to some news accounts. Yushchenko has called for a new election on December 12, and if the crowds don't dwindle, then the Supreme Court will have no choice but to agree. (This is a perfect example of a concept that I mention repeatedly on this web site: in the end, national policies are decided by large masses of people, not by a few politicians.)
And if Yushchenko wins the next election, then Putin will have a big problem.
Last April when I first wrote about Russia's oil giant, Yukos, I speculated that Putin's purpose was to appropriate all of Yukos' assets for the benefit of the Russian government. It has been Russia's culture for decades, since the Bolshevik Revolution, that the government assumes the right to take any company's or any individual's profits at any time for any reason or no reason. I quoted a letter from Nicolai Lenin to the Politburo, explaining why it was necessary to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church in order to harvest its wealth:
The speculation has turned out to be true, as Putin has proceeded step by step in the process of crushing Yukos, forcing it into bankruptcy, and nationalizing its assets.
Putin is a man of steely determination. When multiple terrorist acts occurred in September -- a simultaneous bombing of two airliners in flight, followed by the Beslan school massacre killing hundreds of children and parents -- Putin reacted by increasing his grip on the entire country, including a decision to appoint many legislators rather than risk public elections.
Ukraine became an independent country in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved, just as it became an independent country in 1918 after the Bolshevik Revolution. But Ukraine is rich in valuable resources, and provides an overland route to the Black Sea, so the same Lenin who had decided to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church and take its assets decided to forcibly annex Ukraine. He succeeded in 1921, and then committed repeated atrocities on the population that murdered and starved tens of millions in the 1920s and 1930s.
Now the same Putin who has ruthlessly nationalized Yukos has evidently committed himself to "nationalizing" Ukraine -- by bringing it back into the Russian sphere, bringing its resources and its overland route to the Black Sea under control of Moscow.
Could Putin be as harsh as Lenin was? No one knows, but we do know that Putin is a former KGB official, and his staff consists of many former KGB officials. It's true that he hasn't yet acted ruthlessly in the Chechen war, but the terrorist acts of the last year give reason to believe that he might be willing to be increasingly harsh, in order to preserve the Russian motherland.
Countries around the world -- including America, Canada, and the European Union -- have warned Ukrainian government officials not to use force against its own people, and have warned Putin not to interfere with force.
But here's the contradiction: The man who nationalized Yukos will not let Ukraine slip from his grasp. Putin is willing to stall for a while, he's willing to wait for a while and see what happens, but when the final crunch comes, he'll take whatever action he deems necessary.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the violent atrocities of the 1920s and 1930s occurred across a fault line between ethnic Ukrainians, mostly in Western Ukraine, and ethnic Russians, mostly in Eastern Ukraine. That fault line that is now being reopened. Generational Dynamics predicts that a new war will be fought across that fault line in the next few years, no matter who is finally selected to be President.